Sunday, October 26, 2008

Interview with Author, Pat Simmons

Today, I welcome author, Pat Simmons to Urban Christian Fiction. Pat's second novel, Talk to Me has just been released with Urban Christian Books. That's makes us sisters in the business. Pat you have got to have the yummiest book cover I've seen all year.

Tell us about Talk to Me. My blurb says Noel Richardson is perfect, but genes, wealth, and education don’t define a man….BUT oh what a great start. Jesus has a way of taking our imperfection and molding it into something else.

Where did this wonderful story come from and what motivated you to write it? My brother-in-law, Ben “Rusty” has been Deaf from birth. He also has some other disabilities, but our worlds are intertwined. My motivation? Nosiness. How could I eavesdrop when I have no clue what they are saying? I began to wonder what would keep a person from developing a love relationship: race, religion, employment, blindness, a wheelchair, etc. I truly believe God created a special someone for everybody. I wrote Talk to Me from Noel’s point of view. The man is fine, he has two degrees, the CEO of a non-profit organization, and yes—he can talk. He wasn’t deaf (small‘d’) until he was a teenager as a result of a fireworks explosion. The only thing he wasn’t aware was his sexy baritone voice. Mackenzie Norton loved to hear his voice and he enjoyed watching her lips.

What types of resources did you use to learn about deafness. My brother-in-law was useless, especially if he was watching baseball. Unfortunately, none of my husband’s seven other siblings could sign. Only my mother-in-law signs because “Rusty” went away to a Deaf School as a teenager. Maybe, if he stayed at home, the others would’ve been forced to sign. Of course, my husband’s siblings regret not learning.

I have a good friend who is near certification ASL. I also visited a local Deaf school. I interviewed a Deaf guy from Baltimore over the phone (yes, over the phone—you have to read the book to learn how); I attended the National Black Deaf Advocates convention in my hometown—that was a shocker—Deaf folks are noisy. I emailed a few black Deaf people I had met. At home, I have about five books on signing, including Signing for Dummies, which I lost, but found it later. Try practicing signing in public.

Tell us a little about your previous work and the 2009 sequel. I’m so glad Ms. Jossel enjoyed and accepted Guilty of Love. God told me to write the storyline. At the time I was deep into the research of my family tree. Plus, I didn’t want to deal with the subject of abortion, but God can exonerate us from ANY sin. Guilty of Love is based on that premise. We’re guilty of doing things because of the love we have for our children, parents, siblings, spouse, neighbors, etc. Sometimes, we don’t always make the right decisions, BUT God is always ready to forgive us, if we ask. The other side is accepting the forgiveness. That can be the hardest, because we beat ourselves up when we don’t forgive ourselves. I’m working on what and how I say things to people because if it comes out wrong, I can’t take it back. Now, if I can’t get it together in my mind, then I better not open my mouth. An example is I said the wrong thing to a person and hurt her. I didn’t mean too, but I didn’t think before I spoke. I asked her and God to forgive me, but I began beating up myself, wondering if she really forgave me. God reminded me of my book title and His redeeming love and blood that also applied to me. Then He spoke that I was after His own heart. I’ll never forget that. I mean, God isn’t looking for perfection to be after His heart, He’s looking for …can’t find the right word, so I’ll leave it open for someone else to finish.
As for the sequel, Not Guilty of Love (September 2009), I praise the Lord for the support and accolades I received from Guilty of Love. As a matter of fact, there wouldn’t have been a sequel without queries from readers. They enjoyed Grandma BB, cried with Cheney, wanted to slap Parke a few times, cheered for Malcolm and Hallison, and prayed for a baby.

Tell us about your journey to publication? It seems like the wait was longer than about two years. After the contract was signed and I was in the process of doing my re-writes, God spoke to me. I was sitting at my kitchen table. It was as if the Lord was pointing His finger at me. “Everything that happens in your life advances the story.” The conferences, the authors I met, and the rejection letters, including the one I received the DAY BEFORE Guilty of Love was in the book stores (hah! Look at Jesus), was to advance the story and give me a testimony. Again, look at Jesus.

What has been the most rewarding thing a reader has said to you or sent via email since you’ve become published? A month after Guilty of Love, a reader wrote and poured out her soul to me. She identified with one character, Imani, who appeared in the story maybe five or six times, and a character Ms. Jossel had me tweak. Thank God for editorial advice. I emailed the woman back to encourage her and let her know I was praying for her. Within minutes, she emailed me back, and questioned if it was really me responding, or my secretary. I laughed and assured her if I had a secretary, it would’ve been my daughter, and I couldn’t pay her to do it. Plus, I clean my bathrooms just like everybody else.

Pat, you work fulltime and do publicity for Romantic Times and write novels. I envision a super organized person. Do I have that right? That would be me on steroids. Actually, my shift was changed a few years ago to per-diem, which is minimum days assigned and an on call status. I can be scheduled for three days in one week and be called in three days, which could result in six days. Sometimes, like lately, I’m only working one day a week. Now as a publicist for Romantic Times BOOKreviews Magazine’s annual RT BOOKLOVERS Convention, I sigh. Talk about work, whew, from December until the convention, which is usually in April, my co-publicist and I create the press kits and update the press release. We are solely responsibility for media coverage for authors and the convention, which include setting up TV live shots, author radio, newspaper, and television interview. We work with almost 50 to 60 media outlets per convention from across the country, arranging author and convention exposure. It‘s so rewarding to see authors get FREE publicity for the first time. More than once, New York Times bestselling author Heather Graham scolded me to speak up while we’re on a media event that I’m an author. “Nah, I rather bless others.” God isn’t slack, concerning His promises or blessings. If I call the publisher, Carol Stacy, and say I need…I got it. She was apart of God advancing my story.

As for writing, I do most of it when I’m not writing. I allow my characters run the show, which is usually seconds after I lay my head on my pillow then my want to argue, pray, or go on a job interview! I get back up scribble their thoughts and tell them to hold up until the morning. When I shut my eyes, I shut my mind down. If I can’t write immediately the next day, I try to memorize the scenes until I can get to the keyboards.

As for the Bionic Woman image, I’m no longer as organized as I use to be thanks from my two girlfriends. They ordered me to stop ironing my pillow cases and sheets.

As if you weren’t busy enough, you’ve spent some time in the old family tree. Tell us about that. There’s not enough paper or energy in my fingers to let you know about my passion. Let’s just say I appreciate the struggles my ancestor endured for what I have today. Years ago before I was published, I worked at Books-a-Million in the capacity of a community events coordinator. At closing when it was my turn to clean the restrooms I recalled my grandmother and others who cleaned worse to bring home food for their families. Here I am with a B. S. degree in communications, and I reminded myself that if my ancestors could do it then who am I? I got the bleach, gloves, and towels and got to work. It is SO important to record information from your elders, because once they are gone so is the verbal history. One example: my great-grandmother lived to be 97 years old. I thought, surely she was born in slavery. Nope. Not her or her parents who both were born around 1878—13 years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed the last remaining slaves in Galveston, TX. I was able to find my great-grandmother’s great-grandmother born in the late 1850s. Talk about stories to tell. In honor of my ancestors, I feature one or two as characters in my novels. At the end of the novel, I introduce them and give whatever background I’ve uncovered. Who knows? Maybe some of my lost cousins will recognize the names and contact me, a genealogist’s dream!

Pat you were the recipient of the Katherine D. Jones Award at the 2008 Romance Slam Jam Conference . Tell us about it. Fellow author Dyanne Davis surprisingly presented me the plaque in her hotel suite as I walked in in tears, telling her I had to leave immediately because my father-in-law was dying. My husband and I made it back home Saturday evening. We were with him as he departed this world. Thank God Papa Simmons was baptized in Jesus name and was filled with the Holy Ghost with evidence of speaking in other tongues. I wish he was here to see the historic election with the first black man as a contender for the highest office in this country.

Oh, the Katherine D. Jones Award was named after the late author who passed away in 2007 from a heart attack. I’m honored because I think, I think, I’m the first recipient for grace and humility award. I thank God for His grace and for the Christian walk of humility.

What an honor. Pat, I’ve enjoyed this interview. Tell my readers how they may learn more about you. Fortunately, I've had a great deal of publicity, so I'm on just about every blog I know of on the Internet. My main website is People can also catch me on Facebook, MySpace, Shelfari, Shoutlife, Booktour, three connectplatorm networks, earlhallradionetwork, blogspots, etc…

It was great to have you, Pat. All the best with your new release. It's on my TBR pile and I'm definitely planning to get to it before the holidays. Although I must say, it's been nice just looking at the cover. :o)

I know, I hear that alot. A likeable cover is always a blessing. Thank you, Rhonda, for advancing my story. God Bless you.

No comments: